Food & Beverage

Ernest Escaler

Photo Gourmet Farms

Founder of Gourmet Farms, Ernest Escaler, has been a pioneer in the industry since he launched the company decades ago


He can rightfully lay claim to introducing commercially roasted coffee beans in the Philippines through his company Gourmet Coffee established in 1978. Since then, finance whiz slash venture capitalist slash among-many-others, Ernest de Leon Escaler has been credited with other firsts. The first to manufacture local medicinal plants into tea, to introduce the concept of eating raw green salad, to advocate a holistic system of sustainable food production, to introduce farm-to-table in the Philippines back in 1986. 

These initiatives found a haven in Silang, Cavite where Escaler established The Gourmet Farms on a huge tract of land in 1982, attracting at least two generations of aficionados who regularly trekked to this organic haven-cum-restaurant.

It's in his genes, to be the first. After all, his mother’s family—the de Leons—established the first locally financed sugar central in Pampanga. This streak extends to Escaler’s corporate life, being the first to put up a call centre for Visa appointments in the Philippines, serving practically all the embassies under the company PIASI. Likewise, to his involvement in the arts, being the founding chairman of the Asian Cultural Council, which he still actively serves as a member of its board of trustees; and as a member of the Advisory Board of MaYi Theatre Company in New York. And then, to his philanthropy, being one of the Ateneo alumni founders of the St Aloysius Gonzaga Foundation, which supports seminarians of the Society of Jesus.

For all his achievements, Escaler has been well recognised. But a most special award was the Order of the Star of Italy, given to expatriates and foreigners who have contributed to Italy’s development. Curiously, he achieved here another first, that of the first Filipino to receive the prestigious award.

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Ernest Escaler is also a board member of the Asian Cultural Council.

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